2018 NFL Betting Advice: Predicting the Worst ATS Teams This Year
There are many unique words and phrases in the sports betting industry, but none of them are as prominently used as "good teams win, great teams cover." Unfortunately for bettors, teams don't care about whether they cover the spread or not. They are focused on one thing and one thing only, and that's winning football games. This is why betting on the NFL is difficult. The point spread adds a degree of difficulty to an already-challenging task.
For example, I'm sure by now we are well aware that Cleveland failed to win a game last season, going 0-16. What some may not know is that they managed to cover the spread and give backers some sort repayment four times in 16 games. While that is a long way from the best ATS teams in the league, if goes to show you that even the worst teams can turn in good performances from time to time. After Cleveland, the worst ATS teams from last year were: Denver at 4-11-1, Oakland and Miami at 5-9-2, and Seattle, Arizona and Tampa Bay at 6-9-1.
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The main point of this article is to help you identify a handful of teams that could be ATS money-burners this year. You can use this list to fade them or avoid them completely. The choice is yours. These may just be predictions, but they are intended to be as accurate as possible given a team's strength of schedule, expectations and personnel.
If it weren't for the Cleveland Browns, the Buffalo Bills may very well hold the title of "most dysfunctional team." In 2017 the Bills finally made the postseason after 17 long and painful years before losing to Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars. This season the Bills shipped off their starting quarterback, they have an aging running back who is running into legal trouble, and they will employ a below-average offensive line and a receiving corps that is vastly inexperienced. Somehow, the Bills were among the best ATS teams in the league last year, but I don't expect that to be the case this season. The offense has taken a major step back, even though they were never really good to begin with, and the defense has also lost a few major pieces. Mix that in with six division games, the NFC South and NFC North as out-of-conference games, and the Bills are certain to regress from the 10-6-1 ATS mark they set last season.
Speaking of the Jacksonville Jaguars, they were just one game away from reaching the Super Bowl before ultimately falling to the New England Patriots. The Jags benefitted from the emergence of Leonard Fournette in the backfield and the maturity of Blake Bortles to not do anything stupid. They also rode a solid defense to the playoffs and finished with a respectable 11-8 ATS record. Unfortunately for the Jags, it's going to be tough sledding this season because they won't catch teams by surprise. Last season, we weren't exactly sure what to make of the Jags, mostly because they've been a poor team for the last handful of seasons. They exceeded all expectations, and now the pressure is on them to carry the momentum into this season and perform well again. The Jags will face the NFC East as their out-of-conference opponents, and that figures to be tough sledding with the emergence of the Eagles and the progression that's expected from the Redskins and Giants. The 11-8 ATS mark will be tough to duplicate this season, especially as favorites in the majority of their games.
The Dallas Cowboys are in a state of limbo right now. They've lost their top three receivers for various reasons, and their defense doesn't figure to be very good. However, they do have an older and more mature Dak Prescott under center and a healthy and ready to dominate Ezekiel Elliott running the ball behind one of the best offensive lines in the entire NFL. The only problem is that while Dallas may have gotten worse, the rest of the NFC figures to have gotten better. And with five games against those division foes, Dallas could find themselves out of playoff contention before they know it. Not to mention, it's going to be extremely tough to top their 8-7-1 ATS mark from last season if they are a sub-.500 team, which I expect them to be. The Cowboy's out-of-conference schedule includes the AFC South, which features four teams that could potentially win that division. Betting against America's Team on a weekly basis may be the key to making some money this season.
Kansas City Chiefs
And lastly, the Kansas City Chiefs may find life after Alex Smith tough. Knock him all you want, but Smith performed consistently well for a "game manager" and led the Chiefs to some pretty solid regular seasons. Now they must rely on an unproven quarterback in Patrick Mahomes in a division that features three solid defenses. Much like I spoke about the Jaguars, the Chiefs won't catch teams by surprise like they did the Patriots on opening night last season. Everyone knows about Tyreek Hill's speed and Kareem Hunt's ability to tote the rock. At 10-7 ATS, the Chiefs got lucky by winning a few close games that could have gone either way. With the NFC West on the schedule this year and more questions than answers, I expect the Chiefs to regress a bit and finish the season below .500 in the ATS world.
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